6 reasons to #ComeToKerala

It’s been more than a month since my trip to Kerala, India and I must admit that I still have the India travel bug. How can I not miss the picturesque scenery, the delectable food, and the wonderful people of that southern Indian state?

Munnar Town.
Munnar Town.

I’ve written a lot about my #ComeToKerala trip, which brought me from the historical sites in Thiruvantharapuram (Trivandrum) and Kochi to the backwaters of Alappuzha and the tea plantations of Munnar. The state, I think, is the best representation of the mix between traditional and modern day India.

Honestly, I also had doubts about going to India before the tour. The India I hear from the outside is one where tourists are always in danger of being scammed, and where even the top tourist sites are not taken cared of. Well, one thing I learned from going to Kerala is that India, as a country, is too big to be generalized. Each state is so different from the other and it’s not all bad for tourists!

I thought I’d summarise and conclude my travel experience in Kerala with this blog – giving you 6 reasons why you should visit Kerala, India at least once in your life.

1) Magnificent history, beautiful culture

I’m a culture and history junkie. Whenever I go to another country, I always put museums and major historical sites in my list. Kerala was heaven for me.

The Padmanabhapuram Palace is one of the most important heritage sites of Kerala, though it is located in the state of Tamil Nadu
The Padmanabhapuram Palace is one of the most important heritage sites of Kerala, though it is located in the state of Tamil Nadu

The state has well-maintained cultural sites – palaces, temples, and museums – that show the colourful transition of Kerala from the pre-colonised period to the modern age. I was particularly intrigued by the mystery that surrounded the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum, and the story behind the wooden walls of the Padmanabhapuram Palace in Tamil Nadu.

A local fisherman from Kumarakom village, the original setting of the book "The God of Small Things," prepares to throw his net.
A local fisherman from Kumarakom village, the original setting of the book “The God of Small Things,” prepares to throw his net.

The state has preserved its artistic and cultural heritage very well. Tourists can witness performances as they were done during the pre-colonial India. When going to Kerala, you must see a Kathakali performance or go to a Kalari – a martial art older than Kung Fu – demonstration.

In some countries, tourists have very little chance of seeing how locals live their daily lives. Tourists are mostly shown a facade, which may or may not be the reality locals face. In Kerala, they are not afraid of showing people how locals live; in fact, they are proud of it! There are many home stay programs and local village tours managed by the tourism government. This brings me to my second point.

2) Eco-friendly tourism at its best!

Kerala is rich with lush mountains and beautiful beaches. It is a must-visit for adventure seekers and sunset chasers. The state is also widely famous for its backwaters and estuaries.

The Kerala Tourism Board knows that nature is the state’s best asset so it has taken steps to take care of it. The government practices and implements eco-friendly tourism, meaning they make sure that while tourists increase, nature is not forsaken. In most nature spots, for example, it is forbidden for tourists to smoke and leave their thrash.

A villager shows tourists the traditional way of weaving ropes.
A villager shows tourists the traditional way of weaving ropes.

Tourists help locals, too! The local government practices responsible tourism – whatever income they get from tourists partly go back to the communities. The Kumarakom village tour is owned by the villagers so all the income they get from tourists go back to them. In Periyar Tiger Reserve, locals who used to live in the forest are tapped as forest rangers so they get their income from the tourists while practicing their knowledge of the forest.

Kerala taps its communities to boost its tourism but the government is also concerned on preserving its local culture. An example I saw was during the village tour in Kumarakom where I saw a local making handicrafts out of dried banana leaves. I asked our tour guide why they don’t export the products made by the community and he said the government doesn’t want too much demand for the product because it might disrupt the community’s way of life.

3) The weather is perfect!

Nothing ruins a vacation better than bad weather. If you’re in Kerala, there’s very little chance this will happen to you!

The weather is mostly sunny in many parts of the Indian state. During my entire stay, I didn’t even experience drizzle or rain. The afternoon heat was also not as humid as in most countries near the equator. This is why, according to one hotel manager, many Europeans visit Kerala during the cold winter months.

A typical foggy morning in one of the mountains on on the way to Munnar.
A typical foggy morning in one of the mountains on on the way to Munnar.

If you don’t like the heat, you can always escape to the highlands – Munnar and Thekkady – where the temperature on average is below 20 degrees Celsius.

The monsoon months are from September to November and the rest is summer. Even during the monsoon months, tourists from the Middle East flock to Kerala to enjoy the rains. Anytime’s a good time in Kerala, I guess.

4) Breathtaking views of nature

From the beaches and backwaters to the highlands, almost everything is picturesque in Kerala.

Kovalam beach and the Alappuzha backwaters are perfect for catching the sunset in the Arabian Sea. Cruises are actually available just for this activity! Kovalam and Kochi beaches, though public, are also nice places to stroll around in the early morning.

Kovalam Beach before sunset.
Kovalam Beach before sunset.

Thekkady has huge nature reserves so it’s perfect for bird and wildlife watching. We actually saw wild elephants and bisons there during our morning nature walk!

The sun sets in one of the backwaters of Kumarakom
The sun sets in one of the backwaters of Kumarakom

Munnar is in an entirely different category. The tea plantations there are perfect. If I could, I’d just sit down and drink hot cardamom tea while watching the magnificent view. The tea plantations stretch mountains upon mountains and the cool weather adds to the relaxing vibe. The town proper also has a very provincial feel and it’s a good place to stroll around and shop in the afternoon.

When I get rich, I'd buy a tea plantation in Munnar.
When I get rich, I’d buy a tea plantation in Munnar.

5) World-class hotels

Our stay was sponsored by the Kerala Tourism Board so I presume that the hotels we stayed in are the best in Kerala. If so, then I’d say they’re truly world class!

I’ve stayed in many hotels in the Philippines and abroad, yet I must say that the hotels I stayed in in Kerala are some of the best I’ve seen. All hotels I stayed in had excellent cuisines, especially the Eighth Bastion Hotel in Fort Kochi. The rooms were spacious and well-decorated, and the staff were very accommodating. Needless to say, all of the hotels had strong wifi connections.

My room in Kumarakom Lake Resort had its own jacuzzi!
My room in Kumarakom Lake Resort had its own jacuzzi!

All the hotels also had Ayurveda centers. Ayurveda is a traditional healing method that originated in Kerala. It involves a lot of oils and bodily treatments that are very effective. I caught flu for 3 days during the trip and when I finally decided to go for an Ayurvedic massage, I felt a whole lot better! I lost my flu overnight.

Many tourists actually go to Kerala just to seek Ayurvedic treatment. The traditional methods became more effective since the centers have studied the scientific aspect of the treatments. Ayurvedic massage is a bot pricey though. The cheapest whole body massage would probably be around 2,000 rupees.

The first hotel of my trip!
The first hotel of my trip!

For references, here are the hotels we stayed in during the trip:

  • Trivandrum – The Turtle on the Beach Hotel in Kovalam
  • Alappuzha – Kumarakom Lake Resort
  • Thekkady – Spice Village Hotel
  • Munnar – Tea County Hotel
  • Kochi – Eighth Bastion Hotel in Fort Kochi

6) The people are most welcoming!

Of course, the most important reason why you should visit Kerala – it has the friendliest people I’ve seen!

One major notion about traveling to India is that locals are always trying to scam tourists. During my stay in Kerala, I didn’t feel unsafe even when I was strolling alone at night. I only got scammed once when a shop owner sold me a shirt for 500 rupees when my other co-bloggers only got the shirt for 300. Aside from that, I didn’t have any problems.

PHOTO ESSAY: Faces of Kerala

The locals, tour guides, and hotel staff were very friendly and accommodating. I guess they know well that tourists bring money that prop up the local economy. As in any country, of course, you have to respect the local traditions to make sure that you’re also respected.

Passed by these school children in Thekkady.
Passed by these school children in Thekkady.

Agents of the Kerala Tourism Board will go an extra mile to make sure tourists’ stay are smooth and hassle-free. You can visit their booths when you arrive at Trivandrum International Airport or at Kochi International Airport.

God’s Own Country

The Kerala Tourism Board markets Kerala as “God’s Own Country.” After my trip, I believe they have the right to do so. The state is naturally and culturally beautiful and the government does what it can to make sure it stays this way.

What I like most about Kerala is that it’s perfect for all kinds of travellers – adventure seekers, honeymooners, culture lovers and even shopaholics. There’s something to do for everyone!

To get or not to get an Indian tourist visa on arrival?

The next time I visit Kerala, I’ll make sure that I’ll bring my family or special someone with me. I want them to enjoy what I enjoyed and experience what it’s like in God’s Own Country.

The #ComeToKerala tour group with our tour guide Mr Manoj (L-white long sleeves). Photo from Melo Villareal
The #ComeToKerala tour group with our tour guide Mr Manoj (L-checkered long sleeves). Photo from Melo Villareal

Have you been to Kerala? Tell me your experience in the comments below!

This is a part of my #ComeToKerala blog series. My trip to “God’s Own Country” was sponsored by the Kerala Tourism Board. I had the time of my life in Kerala and I’m sharing my experiences here:

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One thought on “6 reasons to #ComeToKerala

  1. Hey David!
    Being a culture and history junkie, Kerala would have been like a thanksgiving menu clutched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea of you! I remember visiting the Padmanabhapuram Palace during my college days with a close friend. Its grandeur hidden behind those elderly walls and intricate columns is something that still lingers in my cortex.

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